February 13, 1954, has long been regarded by many as one of the most important days in Wagga Wagga’s history – the day Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, visited our city as part of their 1954 Royal Tour.
A special exhibition has been arranged between State Records NSW and the Parliament of NSW to commemorate 60 years since the 1954 Royal Tour and is on display at Parliament House in Sydney and the Western Sydney Records Centre until March 31.
At CSU Regional Archives, we too are revisiting the Royal Tour (from Wagga’s perspective) with an exhibition of material from both our own Collection and the Museum of the Riverina. The exhibition, which includes photographs, commemorative items, and a 15min film of the visit, will be on display in the Archives on CSU’s South Campus until 31 March.
The Daily Advertiser’s front page of February 14, 1954, (a special Sunday souvenir edition) carried the headline, “Wagga’s Greatest Day”. The Editorial read,
“Yesterday the Queen of Australia rode in triumph through the streets of Wagga. For 145 thrill-packed minutes, the centre of the Riverina became the heart of the mighty British Commonwealth.”
Estimates vary as to the exact number of people who crammed Wagga’s streets to catch a glimpse of the royal couple, but most range from between 80,000 to in excess of 100,000. This number becomes even more significant when one considers that the population of Wagga Wagga at the time was only 18,500 and that the temperature reached 92 degrees Fahrenheit on the day (the hottest of the entire 10 day royal tour).
If you would like to read more about Wagga’s preparations for the Royal Tour and what happened on the day itself, we have written a number of ‘At the Archives’ articles on the subject:
- Preparations (part 1)
- Preparations (part 2)
- The Visit (part 1)
- The Visit (part 2)
- Planning Royal Tours
NB. We have arranged some of the images chosen for the exhibition into our online gallery.